Entrepreneurial Projects: Creative Ways to Deliver Music and Engage Today’s Audiences

One of the hallmarks of my class at Yale School of Music is the entrepreneurial semester project that my students complete in order to gain experience with the skills that we learn in the class.  There are two rules:

  1. It has to be something that a student has never done before; and
  2. It has to be outside the student’s comfort zone.

Yet again, my students impressed me with their willingness to experiment and take risks.  Their projects demonstrated a wide range of creativity and innovation in the way these musicians perform and deliver music and engage the public.  Many of the projects explored how technology can be harnessed in order to spread the word about music.  In a number of instances, the projects have become the seeds for revenue-generating ventures.  It is exciting to see that a majority of the students discovered a new activity that they plan to incorporate into their menu of future offerings.

Here is a run-down of the projects:

 Technology-based Projects

  • Smartphone App for Audience Interaction

Conductor Paolo Bortolameolli is passionate about showing members of his generation how “cool” classical music can be and accordingly has created the prototype of a smartphone app that enables audience members to learn about a work on a concert program.  His app combines program notes, posts from the artists involved in performances of the piece, micro-blogging and tweets from audience members at the performances, as well as access to a website with archival information about the work. I can’t wait for this app to go live so that I can get the inside scoop on performances from a conductor’s perspective, not to mention share my views with other concert goers!

  •  Helping Musicians Stay Organized while On the Road

Like many musicians, tenor Galeano Salas travels a lot for his work and is committed to staying organized and on top of his finances while he is away from home.  Galeano created a presentation for musicians about inexpensive technological tools that make it easy to stay organized while on the road so that they can focus their attention to the music making. Galeano created a power point presentation that introduced these tools and he plans to do these presentations at festivals and workshops so that he can help his fellow musicians stay on top their game.  Thanks to Galeano, the Good Reader app in now on my iPad for my own PDF’s!

  • Website Showcasing Emerging Canadian Musicians

Canadian soprano Catherine Affleck created the prototype of a website called Not Just The Nose Bleeds to promote up and coming Canadian musicians. Her site will feature free or low-cost tickets to musical performances in major Canadian cities in order to make these performances more accessible to more people. Catherine hopes that her site will attract new audiences, especially those who who may not be able to afford a full-price ticket and may be skeptical about opera and classical music but are curious to explore different types of music. Watch for the debut of Catherine’s website in case you are in Canada and want to catch some great low-cost talent!

  • Kickstarter Campaign for CD project

Composer Balint Karosi is eager to showcase his music and is aiming to release a commercial CD recording of a representative selection of his original compositions.  For his project, he is launching a Kickstarter campaign that will offer some great incentives, including a one-minute composition on the donor’s favorite instrument.  Check out the wonderful video that Balint created to introduce his project!

Business Ventures

  • Low-Cost Websites for Musicians

Trumpeter John Allen has created a low-cost website design service for classical musicians called Fermata Designs. Because John understands the particular challenges and needs of today’s musicians, he is able to offer customized expert design services at a low cost and thus provide a better product for his clients than what is offered by free website platforms. Not only did John create and launch his own website but he also created websites for two of his fellow students in our class, including  Katrin Endrikat’s beautiful new website.  John is already working with new clients so be sure to check out his work!

Sharing Music in Creative Ways

  • YouTube Channel with Songs for People who Need Cheering Up

Soprano Jenna Siladie has created a YouTube channel called Send Along A Song to provide free songs for people who need to be cheered up. Friends or family of a loved one who is struggling emotionally or physically can email Jenna and ask her to record the favorite song of the person in need.  Jenna then makes a video of herself singing the song, along with a personal dedication which she emails to the individual in question.  Jenna’s first song was a real hit with one of her family members and she is eager to help out anyone else who needs a lift.  Be sure to email Jenna if you have someone who could use a life from a favorite song.  

  • Transcriptions for Viola Ensemble

Violist Heejin Chang loves her instrument and wants to showcase its beauty to as many people as possible.  She created a 5-person viola ensemble and transcribed a wide range of works from classical music (Bach, Shostakovich, Borodin), opera (Rigoletto), contemporary music (Piazzola) and musical theater (West Side Story). Heejin and her viola ensemble were thrilled to perform the transcriptions at a local hospital.  She plans on continuing to make arrangements and performing her works, as well as using the ensemble as a springboard to being a teaching artist.  I hope to hear more of Heejin’s transcriptions so that she can share her passion for the viola with today’s audiences.

  • Transcribed Early Music Performance Scores 

Soprano Megan Chartrand challenged herself to learn Sibelius and provide a service to early music lovers by creating modern, practical performance scores of early music that had not previously been transcribed. Megan started out with a work by Benedetto Ferrari and plans to finish Ferrari’s collected works, post them on her website and share the scores on IMSLP for anyone to use.  She also plans to make a bound hard copy for my own library.  Megan envisions becoming a score creator of early music works and also looks forward to creating opportunities to perform this music with other collaborators.  What a great service to early music lovers!

  • Vocalises for Singers

Soprano Molly Netter composed two contrasting vocalizes both to reacquaint herself with composing, as well as to create beautiful, musically fulfilling vocalise exercises for other singers to help with their ear training.  Molly was thrilled to share a recording of herself singing her first vocalise in our class and is excited to continue composing these works.  I look forward to hearing more of Molly’s compositions. 

Audience Development Projects

  • Flash Performances in Unusual Venues

Katrin Endrikat is eager to reach new audiences and produced and performed 8 flash-concerts for herself and her guitar/bassoon duo Duo Bachianas in unusual performance spaces around New Haven.  The venues ranged from an Art Critique Class at Yale, the Truman Elementary School, a yoga class, a German cabaret, the Yale Bookstore, the Yale Art Gallery, Yale New Haven Hospital, the New Haven Public Library and the Neighborhood Music School tent at a recent New Haven event.  Not only did Katrin learn how to produce concerts and deal with last-minute glitches but she also developed a knack for answering unexpected questions and getting audiences excited about her music. Katrin plans to do more of these performances so stay tuned if you are in or around New Haven next year!

  • Community Concert

Clarinetist and Teaching Artist David Perry created a community concert for his students and their parents both to inspire them with a memorable performance experience, as well as provide the audience with a greater connection to the music. The performance included classic clarinet repertoire, which David enhanced by speaking about the music and sharing his personal observations about the works. David is excited to do more of these concerts so those of you in or around New Haven should watch for his upcoming programs!

  • Concert at the Flea Theater

Composer Will Gardiner is presenting a concert of his own music in New York at Flea Theater in SoHo, NYC on Sunday June 23, 2013. The concert will be part of the “Music with a View” series, in which emerging composers present larger-form pieces of music, followed by a discussion session with the audience.   Will is learning how to recruit musicians, schedule and plan rehearsals and market the concert, which will be promoted by the venue along with a social media campaign by all of the performers.  Be sure to attend the concert if you are in NY on June 23! 

  • Performance at Toronto Airport

Canadian Cellist Christopher Hwang is eager to collaborate with other musicians and share his music in new ways.  He created a transcription for cello and guitar of the “Intermezzo” from the opera Goyescas which he will perform with Canadian guitarist Arash Noori in the Toronto Pearson Airport this summer.  Chris plans on creating more of these transcriptions and looks forward to new collaborations and performance opportunities.  If you are passing through Pearson Airport this August, be sure to watch out for Chris and Arash!